“Le Mans is a very special place for Corvette.”
…says Chevy racing boss Jim Campbell. “It’s part of our history. We think of the privateers who’ve raced here with Corvette over the years, and of our full factory effort that began here in 2000.”
Last year, that full factory effort gave Corvette Racing their 8th win at Le Mans and, as I write this, they’ve just upped their game with a nail-biting 0.034s one-two Daytona finish. So, as newbies to Henley-in-Arden, The ‘TA71S Works’ Team are excited to be the guys who get to bring a scale version of Corvette Racing’s awesome C7.R GTLM to the 2016 DiSCA 24hr grid.
So, what’s this Henley-in-Arden thing all about, then? Well, The Digital Slot Car Association (DiSCA) are the organisers behind what is now widely regarded as the biggest and best 1:32 scale slot race in the UK. Now in its fifth year, the race runs on a well-proven Ninco track design, using the Slot.it oXigen system to allow up to 16 teams to race their cars against eachother in three classes; LMP1, LMP2, and GT.
All the action takes place on an enormous replica of the famous Circuit de la Sarthe – the main straight from Tetre Rouge to the Mulsanne Kink alone is just over 54 track segments long and, at 65,5m (215ft) in total length, the circuit requires 776 pieces of track to construct the 4 lane lay-out. Working pits, safety car and various diorama pieces add to the realism and atmosphere… this may be a scale event, but it’s certainly not a small event!
Rules are strict, enforced fairly, and encourage teams to push the envelope with regard to what’s possible in scale slot racing while also maintaining a sensible balance of performance between the three classes on-track. Although our intention was to run a relatively ‘stock’ setup, I fully expect to see some exciting designs from some of the veteran teams!
In September 2015, when we decided to enter a team in this year’s DiSCA event, there really was only one class we wanted to be in; GT. And, with a desire to have a unique entry, it had to be a Corvette C7R. But, no single slot manufacturer was close to releasing a race-ready 1:32 model of the C7.R. Still, the decision to run the Corvette was actually a surprisingly easy one – and I knew exactly who to approach.
Designer Marco Rizzi was already well underway on a commission to produce a 1:32 C7.R for another well-known slot manufacturer – so, a plan was hatched and I was able to negotiate a limited run of 3D-printed GTLM cars to be produced through The Area71 Slotcars, specifically for this race.
Many teams have employed 3DP parts in their builds for this event, but our C7.R not only represents a first in class – with 3DP as the core concept, it’s the first completely 3D-printed body, chassis and motorpod combination from a slot manufacturer!
So, with factory backing and a car in development, I set about recruiting the first ‘TA71S Works’ team – an eclectic group of pilots was gathered from three different countries, each bringing a range of different skills and experience.
Björn and I have enjoyed a friendly rivalry for some time, battling against eachother at various 1:32 sprint and endurance races across northern Germany – having snapped at eachother’s heels for so long, I thought it was about time we joined forces. Together with Ben, the youngest member of our team, we’re very excited to be making our DiSCA debuts.
Tamar is well-known to DiSCA regulars, he’s been the driving force behind various teams over the last four years and, without his efforts, my team’s C7.R would never have been developed to the level it has. Together with Gregor Pieter, these two bring a wealth of technical knowledge to the team, some welcome stability and experience, and some serious digital driving skills.
As Campbell said, “It sounds trite, but it takes a never-give-up attitude. You will get incredible challenges and curveballs during the race, and it’s all about how you respond as a team.”
This has been especially true for us – building a new team and a new car across borders has certainly not been easy. Manufacturing and logistical issues held up the proceedings at crucial final stages, but the solid development work put in previously by Tamar meant we always had a reliable base to work on. I’m really looking forward to this, my first scale Le Mans 24hr, and my first ‘proper’ digital race. It’s already been great fun – and, before the race even starts, I’m very proud of what my TA71S Works team have been able to create.
So, before we pack up our 1:1 cars and head to Dunkirk to catch our ferry, I’d like to thank my team-mates for all their collective efforts in the run-up to this race. My gratitude goes double to Tamar, who not only worked tirelessly (and, often, single-handedly!) as lead engineer during testing, development, and building, but also did a sterling job of keeping me sane as we dealt with some of those challenges and curveballs Campbell predicted!
Now, guys… relax. Here comes the best part – at last, we get to see our stunning Corvette C7.R out on the track, mixing it with those seasoned Saleens and Ferraris for GT honours… let’s show them what it can do!